Sunday, June 6, 2004; Page M07
Are you funneling your unspent aggression in unproductive ways . . . say, snapping at your boss or fighting with your boyfriend? Rather than going into therapy – or losing your man – get the lead out with camogie, a women's team sport from Ireland that comes off like a freewheeling combination of baseball, lacrosse and field hockey. With rules similar to hurling – the men's version of the game – the goal is simple: Using a hurley (a flat stick made of ash wood), score points by moving the tennis-ball-size "sliothar" down the field and past the goalie through the H-shaped goal post. (Get it through the net below and score 3 points; above the vertical bar, 1 point.) It's the getting there where it gets funky: You can hit the sliothar with your stick or balance it on your hurley and run with it, but you can't throw it in the air with your hands or carry it in your paws for more than three steps.
Players mostly range from age 18 to mid-30s, and each game has two 30-minute halves, with teams of 13 people each facing off. "You'll need stamina, hand-eye coordination and speed," says Niall Dempsey, 40, coach of the D.C. Gaels team. "You've got to be extremely fit to play."
What to Expect: The thrill of competition – and sore muscles. Blocking passes results in what's called "the clash of the ash," and there's plenty of scrambling up and down the field at lightning speed. "You feel like you're 9 years old when you're on the field," says Katy Nordenbrook, 30, one of the founding members of the D.C. Gaels. "Nothing else matters."
What to Bring: Beginners are welcome. The team lends hurleys and helmets to new players. "The only thing you need to bring to your first session is sneakers and an open mind," says Daylyn Finnegan, 28, who has been playing for three years. "And maybe a bottle of water – because we're going to work you."
Cost: Annual membership for local teams ranges from $30 to $45. Once you decide to join, you'll want your own hurleys ($18 to $20) and protective gear (cleats, shinguards and mouthpiece). Finnegan suggests buying two hurleys, as one will probably break during the first season. A helmet (about $40) is similar to the hockey kind and available at sporting-goods stores. – Michele Capots
Where to Get the Sliothar Rolling
Baltimore GAA. For information, e-mail Lucy Clerkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 443-802-8439. www.baltimoregaa.com. The Baltimore Gaelic Athletic Association sponsors this coed camogie-and-hurling team, which practices Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. at Baltimore's Patterson Park. Cost is $30 a year.
D.C. Gaels. For information, e-mail Lucy Clerkin at email@example.com or call 443-802-8439. www.wdcgaels.com. This D.C.-based women's team holds camogie practice every Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Sundays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Tilden Middle School (11211 Old Georgetown Rd., Rockville). Home games are scheduled on July 24 and 25 at Tilden against the Boston-based teams Eire Org and Emerald Isle. There's also a hurling team for the guys; if interested, contact Cathal McAuley at firstname.lastname@example.org. The annual membership fee for both teams is $45.
Know of a great outdoors opportunity in your area? E-mail email@example.com. Please include your name, city and daytime phone number.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Do you ever get an urge to wield a great big stick? Then this is your game.
(Linda Spillers For The Washington Post)
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